David Wilkie and Cowboy Celtic
David Wilkie, the founder of Cowboy Celtic, has been tracking down the roots of cowboy music all the way to the Celtic isles for more than two decades. As Wilkie has discovered, the cattle industry has been going on in Scotland and Ireland for hundreds of years, and cattlemen from Ireland and Scotland brought their culture and musical traditions with them when they moved to North America.
The music of Cowboy Celtic demonstrates that those traditions live on in the cowboy songs of today. This connection between cowboy and Celtic is neither forced nor vague. Rather, it is very natural and direct. The stories of love and loneliness, lawbreakers and lynchings, all reflect the very real world of both the old west and the rural Britons. The connection is in the stories and it is unmistakably in the music. Whether in the traditional songs or old tunes with new lyrics, or in Wilkie’s original material, when you hear it, you get that startling recognition that it has always been there.
Cowboy Celtic, centered in Turner Valley, Alberta, includes David Wilkie on mandolin and vocals, Denise Withnell on guitar and vocals, Keri Lynn Zwicker on harp and vocals, and Joseph Hertz on fiddle. David Wilkie has produced several Cowboy Celtic albums that have been internationally recognized. Their second CD, Cowboy Ceilidh, won the Oklahoma City National Cowboy Hall of Fame Wrangler Award for Outstanding Traditional Western Music Album. They were the first Canadians to ever win this award. Buckaroo Poet, Waddie Mitchell, stated concerning Cowboy Celtic’s Western Jubilee Recording Company release, The Drover Road, “This album does it all… stirs emotion, intrigues, makes you tap your feet while it taps your nerves, and leaves you contented from a journey well explored.”
This is more than music. It’s theatre and imagery and history and storytelling and more, all wrapped up in sagebrush and tartan. The Celtic origins of cowboy music are well documented. Traditional Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh folk music served as the foundation and model for countless cowboy classics. Cowboy Celtic melts the rolling hills of Ireland into the dusty trails of Texas; the rugged Scottish Highlands into the majestic Alberta Rockies; and the gentle English chalk streams into the roaring rivers of Montana.
“One of our most innovative and creative musicians, Wilkie has had his hand in more important acoustic and/or country projects than perhaps any other musician in Alberta’s musical history.” – Peter North, The Edmonton Sun